By Gil Elan
If you only got your information about Israel over the past year from news reports and “talking heads” on TV and radio, you could be excused for having the impression that Israelis would be among the most distraught, paranoid, mistrustful and fearful people on the planet.
After all, what other country is surrounded by armed enemies that constantly declare their commitment to its destruction? What other country is told by a soon-to-be-nuclear enemy that it is a “cancer that must be eradicated,” or “blight on the face of the earth that must be “burned to the ground”?
What other small country suffers almost daily terrorist attacks and occasional rocket barrages, and yet is criticized, threatened and sanctioned by its supposedly “good friends” when it dares to take the necessary measures to defend its people and its homeland?
I could go on about anti-Zionism demonstrations on college campuses or the worldwide anti-Israel BDS (Boycott, Diversify, and Sanction) movement, and frequent elections…but you get the picture. The Israelis have every right to be…well, at least a bit uptight.
And yet, with all that, the Israelis are actually happy…happier than almost all the other people in the world — including the U.S.!
Proof — an annual survey ranked Israel the 11th-happiest country in the world, ahead of the United States, and far ahead of its neighbors in the region.
As reported in the Times of Israel Sept. 10, The World Happiness Report, published three months ago, was based on data collected for 156 countries between 2010 and 2012. Denmark, Norway and Switzerland took the top three spots.
The report ranked the happiness of the world’s nations based on a “life evaluation score,” a number between 0 and 10 that measures several factors including health, family and job security, and social factors like political freedom, social networks and lack of government corruption.
The index was a collaborative effort between the Vancouver School of Economics, the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, the London School of Economics and Columbia University.
Israel jumped three spots in the rankings from last year, coming in just behind Australia (10th). The United States dropped six spots, coming in at 17th and the United Kingdom placed 22nd.
Israelis are much happier when compared to their neighbors in the Middle East. Jordan ranked 74th in the survey, Lebanon 97th and Egypt 130th.
War-ravaged Syria ranked 148th on the list, and Togo’s citizens were ranked least happy.
One of the goals of the report was to challenge the assumption that happiness is directly correlated to wealth. While the countries that are happiest by and large do tend to be the wealthiest ones, it is social factors that play a larger role in the happiness of those countries, including the absence of government corruption and the degree of personal freedom.
So now, as 2014 draws to an end — we can add another great category to the Israelis long list of world leading achievements. In addition to being pioneering, resourceful, dynamic, groundbreaking, industrious, inventive, compassionate, courageous, ingenious, revolutionary and more than occasionally a little bit “chutzpadik” …Israelis are HAPPY!
Agree or disagree, that’s my opinion.
Lieutenant Colonel (IDF res) Gil Elan is President and CEO of the Southwest Jewish Congress, and a Middle East Analyst. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Upcoming briefings and SWJC events are listed at: www.swjc.org. DISCLAIMER: Opinions are the writer’s, and do not represent SWJC directors, officers or members.